The other day I was traveling with clients when we crossed the Bridge of the Americas.
There are three bridges which connect our bisected country, but the Americas is the most used. We were traveling east leaving Panama City on our way to view some property before they returned to Mexico. I’ve never grown tired of the absolute thrill of taking that bridge up and over the Canal but sometimes, when I have a lot on my mind, I don’t pause and acknowledge its’ awesomeness. The Panama Canal is simply amazing and I am always humbled when I look at it.
Focusing On Time and Traffic
“We are going to stop to look at Casa Bonita first,” I said as we merged onto the bridge. The bridge is always busy with maintenance work, buses, and lots of commuters. “Then we’ll be on to Costa del Este,” I continued laying out our day. My clients were being moved from Mexico City to Panama by the company the husband worked for. I knew we had to make the most of this day so I was concentrating on time and traffic.
“Oh” said the female client as she caught her breath and moved a bit closer to the windshield. “I didn’t think it would be like this,” she said. “It’s so much more than I expected.”
I wasn’t sure what she had expected, so I smiled and looked over at her marveling at the sight. “I’ve been on some pretty impressive bridges,” she began. “Remember, when we were in San Francisco,” she said to her husband, turning to catch his gaze from the the back seat. He returned the smile. “The Golden Gate,” he said simply. “It’s pretty amazing.”
“I know,” she said, “but it just goes over water. Look what’s going on down there! It’s the Panama Canal.” Large cargo boats as well as small sail boats sat side-by-side, ready to transit from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s nice to see my country in someone else’s eyes.
From 9,500 Vehicles Daily To 50,000
The Bridge of the Americas is a workhorse. It was designed to carry about 9,500 vehicles a day when it was completed in 1962. Today, it’s more like 50,000 vehicles and, as you can imagine, often times a real bottle neck.
“Panama has another bridge, the Centennial Bridge, which opened in the last 15 years, but it is located more toward the mid-way section of the Canal and does not really connect Panama City with the western part of the country,” I continued explaining as traffic and transportation is always important when considering property. “The Centennial Bridge does however keep you on the Pan-American highway which runs for about 19,000 miles from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina with a small unnavigable break at the Darien Gap in Panama,” I said.
“You mean you can’t drive from say Mexico to Brazil?” she questioned. “Sort of,” I responded, “but at the Darien, you’ll have to hire someone to transport your vehicle by water,” I said as we began our descent. “The Gap is about 66 miles of swampland and forest.”
Let’s Talk Traffic!
“Let’s talk about the traffic,” said the husband. “To go from a design to carry 9,500 cars a day to somewhere around 50,000 is pretty significant.” He said.
“There is no question traffic—on the bridge as well as times in and around the city—can be difficult. Lots of people go to work early and others stay late to avoid the worst of it, but the good news is we are getting a fourth bridge”, I explained.
A Fourth Bridge Is Coming
“The fourth bridge is going to completely change the transport picture in Panama,” I said. “The bridge won’t just be a six lane highway, but it will also support two additional monorails which will be the Number Three metro line. That will ease traffic congestion on the Bridge of the Americas, plus people will have the option of taking the metro. The project also allows for foot traffic and bicycle lanes.”
“When will this be complete?” asked the wife. “The projected date is 2022,” I responded, but quickly added, “It’s a complicated project, but it’s supposed to take three and a half years and we are at the point of starting to dig. It’s a 1.42 billion dollar project. Just getting the bids and the consortiums sorted has taken years,” I continued.
We were now traveling along a two-lane road that would quickly take us to the beautiful Greco-Mediterranean style residential tower of Casa Bonita which shares amenities with the five-star Playa Bonita Westin Resort. The road to the resort is quiet and it’s runs along the Bay of Panama.
“The new bridge is going to be beautiful and functional,” I said. “There is supposed to be a restaurant perched on one of the pillars and I’m just waiting for that to open,” I said laughing.
The Restaurant Scene
“Speaking of restaurants,” said the husband. “Are there places to eat out here or will we need to go into the city. No offense, but I certainly wouldn’t be ordering wine if I thought I had to drive over the Canal.”
Sharing Amenities With The Westin
“I think you might want to walk,” I said. “The Westin is a short walk from the residential tower and they have a multitude of restaurants which includes everything from a daily buffet to a steak house, sushi and burgers! They will even deliver to your apartment in Casa Bonita, but with Panama Pacifico so close, the options are endless.”
“How will the traffic be from Casa Bonita to 3M in Panama Pacifico?” came a question from the back.
“It’s not really walkable,” I began, “but you almost could.” Panama Pacifico is such an incredible master planned community with so many expats, great schools and green space. It’s the old US Howard Air Force Base and it’s 3,450 acres. Something like 40% of the project will be dedicated to the natural environment so you will be working in a fabulous area and then you should come home to a fabulous place,” I continued as I brought the car to a stop and a doorman came out. I smiled and introduced my passengers before handing over my keys and walking into the lobby of Casa Bonita.
“I wasn’t all that happy when he came home and told me we were moving again,” she said. “I’m tired of picking up and moving every three to five years, but he tells me this is going to be it, so we need to be sure about our home.”
I smiled as I walked them to the high-speed elevators. I knew this was going to be a perfect fit.